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Vikings' Kwesi Adofo-Mensah on Justin Jefferson, Brian Flores, More at NFL Combine

Adofo-Mensah held his second combine press conference in Indianapolis on Tuesday morning.
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Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, now over a full year into his tenure as the Vikings' general manager, held his second NFL scouting combine press conference in Indianapolis on Tuesday morning. With his team coming off a 13-win regular season and disappointing first round playoff exit, Adofo-Mensah touched on the Brian Flores hire, a possible Justin Jefferson extension, and much more ahead of a crucial offseason.

Let's dive into his comments on some of the big topics surrounding the Vikings.

Will Justin Jefferson be extended this offseason?

Justin Jefferson, the 2022 AP Offensive Player of the Year and the undisputed face of the Vikings' franchise, is eligible for a contract extension this offseason after completing his third NFL campaign. Unsurprisingly, everything the team has said publicly indicates that they want to keep Jefferson in Minnesota for a long time.

"I said it earlier, I don’t want to be the Vikings GM without that guy on our team, so it’s a high priority," Adofo-Mensah said. "We gotta make sure that we do it in the order that we can do it in given all our other decisions we have to make."

The Vikings don't have to extend Jefferson this offseason. He still has one more year on his rookie contract and then the fifth-year option in 2024. But the longer they wait, the higher the price figures to climb. If they give Jefferson a record-setting deal for something like five years and more than $30 million per year, that AAV for an elite receiver might not look too bad by the end of the contract — when he'll still be in his prime.

Jefferson, statistically, has been the best receiver in the league over the past three years, and he hasn't turned 24 yet. He's also one of the most marketable superstars in the NFL. The Vikings have other extension decisions to make on players like Kirk Cousins and T.J. Hockenson and Danielle Hunter, but when you have someone like Jefferson, you get that deal done and figure everything else out afterwards.

"He’s trying to put the Minnesota Vikings on his back and he wants to win a championship," Adofo-Mensah said. "When you have people like that in your building, try everything you can to not let them out."

Added benefits of the Brian Flores hire

The Vikings made one of the splashier coordinator additions in this year's hiring cycle, landing former Dolphins head coach Brian Flores as their new DC. He replaces Ed Donatell, who lasted just one season after his defense finished 31st in yards allowed and tied for 30th in points allowed. Flores, a longtime Bill Belichick disciple before his Miami tenure, will bring a much more aggressive brand of defense to Minnesota.

"I can’t say enough great things about that addition," Adofo-Mensah said. "It’s not just the football mind, which is special. As I talked about when we got our list together, I’m always going to be a numbers guy, so I’m always going to go look at the results of his defenses and they played a lot of good, efficient football with a lot of young players, and that’s something that really drew us to him. And then you talk about the leader, how passionate he is. He fits so well in our culture where our culture is positivity, it’s passionate, and he fits really well into that."


Adofo-Mensah also touched on an underrated element of landing Flores. Not only are they getting a top defensive mind and a great leader with head coaching experience, they're also getting someone who can help them a lot on the personnel side of things. Before getting into coaching, Flores was a Patriots scout for four years, so he'll play a sizable role alongside the Vikings' front office in identifying the players he needs for his scheme, both in free agency and in the draft.

"He has a really extensive personnel background, so it’s not just about the players we draft this year or in free agency, it’s about reshaping our vision for the roster going forward, not just to compete in today’s NFL, but where it could go," Adofo-Mensah said. "What’s so great about him is he’s very specific about why he wants what he wants, but he also understands the market dynamic."

Addressing the futures of the two Dalvins

There are only two players in the NFL named Dalvin, and both of them were key contributors for the Vikings last season. This offseason, both Dalvin Cook and Dalvin Tomlinson have uncertain futures in Minnesota.

Cook is under contract for three more years with lofty cap numbers. He's made four consecutive Pro Bowls, but he's coming off a very poor season — when judging by the advanced metrics — and turns 28 this summer. Adofo-Mensah has to decide if it's worth it to pay a running back major money in the modern NFL. If he deems that it isn't, the Vikings may move on by trying to trade Cook or outright releasing him.

"Starts with having a great player and a great leader," Adofo-Mensah said. "Otherwise, we’re just — in the NFL, you have a lot of constraints, salary cap, different things, and we're trying to figure out how we can operate in those things."

Tomlinson, meanwhile, is not under contract for the upcoming season — but he does have three void years and $7.5 million remaining on his deal. The team recently pushed back the void date to March 15th, giving them some additional time to work with. If they don't work out a new contract by then, Tomlinson's contract will void and that $7.5 million will hit the Vikings' books as dead cap.

If the Vikings don't bring Tomlinson back, they will have a big hole to fill in the middle of their defensive line.

"Look, we love Dalvin," Adofo-Mensah said. "Same thing, whenever you have good players in your building, good people, you want to do everything you can to keep them. Obviously, we have a lot of decisions to make, so we’re trying to buy ourselves a little bit more time."

The obligatory Kirk Cousins quote

Of course, it wouldn't be a complete press conference without Adofo-Mensah being asked about Kirk Cousins, who is once again the main topic of conversation this offseason. What he had to say didn't exactly break any new ground, but the way he framed it was fairly interesting (and extremely on-brand).


"Let’s go all the way numbers, let’s go full numbers," Adofo-Mensah said. "So, we talk about necessary and sufficient conditions, right, in math. And so a necessary condition is having a starter-level quarterback, a quarterback of above a certain threshold. Now that doesn’t mean for sure you’re going to win, that’s not the only thing you need, but that is one of the things you need, right? So having a good-level quarterback is a necessary condition. Kirk meets that threshold, so we know that. OK, well now how do you build the rest of the team around him to make sure that you can win in that way? Different quarterbacks require different things around them, but we know that for sure, he meets that threshold. 

"How long does he meet that threshold? Those are things we’ve got to answer. Is there a chance to add somebody maybe with different skill sets? Those are all questions we’ve got to answer, so there’s not one right way, but I do know one thing, I know he is good enough, he meets that first threshold, and that’s a question that a lot of people can’t answer with a yes, so we’ve got to make sure we treat that in the proper importance that it is."

People can read into that quote however they want, but I don't think Adofo-Mensah tipped his hand one way or another when it comes to either extending Cousins or letting him play out the final year of his contract.

An interesting answer about linebackers

Lastly, here's one more thing that jumped out to me. When Adofo-Mensah was asked about the linebacker position, he named three names — and none of them were starters Eric Kendricks or Jordan Hicks, both of whom are under contract in 2023 but could become cap casualties.

"We have a lot of confidence in Brian Asamoah, who is also in that room," Adofo-Mensah said. "Troy Dye is a very good player. William Kwenkeu showed some really good things on special teams, so we’re going to take a look, like we do at every position. We have decisions to make just like everybody else does there."

Interesting! (It's probably meaningless).

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